It’s just about time to be enjoying oranges in the U.S., though it’s never a bad time to learn the health benefits of these popular fruits. Tangerines are a popular variety of oranges—juicy and sweet and loaded with health perks. Did you know that research has linked these orange delights to reduced risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even protection against atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries?

As GreenMedInfo reports, researchers from the University of Western Ontario found a substance in tangerines that’s responsible for these benefits and possibly more. It’s known as nobiletin –a powerful flavonoid.

Published in the journal Diabetes, the research on nobiletin shows this compound is able to prevent metabolic syndrome—a risk factor for a variety of diseases.

The researchers looked at the effects of nobiletin on mice after feeding them a traditional Western diet, high in fats and processed sugars. Both groups were fed the same unhealthy diet, but one of the groups supplemented with nobiletin.

The non-nobiletin group became obese and developed high blood pressure, cholesterol, and high blood sugars. They also developed a fatty liver—all signs of metabolic syndrome. The other group, however, had none of those risky symptoms. On the contrary, the nobiletin group became more sensitive to the effects of insulin.

Read: Tangerines Fight Obesity and Protect Against Heart Disease

The researchers determined that not only did the nobiletin protect the mice from obesity, but also from hardening of the arteries and possibly metabolic syndrome overall. Further, the compound was able to prevent a fatty liver by “stimulating the expression of genes involved in burning excess fat, and inhibiting the genes responsible for manufacturing fat.”

As if that isn’t enough, Mandarin oranges are known to contain something called tangeretin. Another powerful flavonoid, tangeretin has been shown to inhibit the growth of leukemia and possibly combat breast cancer.

Big Pharma knows foods are healing, they just can’t make any money off of them. Unfortunately, with most decisions being solely profit-driven, it seems Pfizer-Canada may be looking to make a pharmaceutical drug using the tangerine compound, and a solution for obesity and heart disease are what people need most.

The most interesting part about all of the research on oranges lies in where you get the most bang for your buck—the skin. The rind and zest of citrus fruits are where you’ll find the highest concentration of these valuable nutrients.

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